The Knysna Muslim Council believes a precedent has been set in the coastal town‚ where there are 15 churches in the CBD‚ and want the same for mosques.
KMC chairman Omar Esso told TimesLIVE that the council’s proposal to build a mosque in Knysna is “no different to what is already established with the churches”.
He was speaking at the high court in Cape Town on Wednesday‚ where a case opposing the development is raging.
A group of residents‚ called 22 Rawson Street Homeowners‚ applied to court to halt the construction of the mosque‚ which it argues contravenes municipal by-laws.
But Esso believes that there was a different agenda behind the block.
“On face value there seems to be genuine concern [from the residents] but we sincerely doubt it‚” he said.
“The question is: are [they] going to refuse it to us and accommodate others?”
The Knysna Municipality awarded a rezoning application to develop a 1‚277m2 property to KMC last year.
But fellow residents objected‚ citing availability of parking‚ traffic congestion and obstruction of views‚ among some of their reasons.
Arguing for the applicants‚ advocate Eduard Bower explained that the “fundamental aspect of the applicants’ case is the Traffic Impact Assessment report”.
Bower said that such a report would provide data to show the traffic impact of the proposed development.
“We have no data‚” said Bower.
“The development may change current conditions of traffic in the town. The municipal manager wrote a letter to Western Province Planning saying that not doing a study on traffic impact would be careless.”
Bower also argued that the proper concessions for parking were not considered when the property was rezoned.
He presented that the new zoning would allocate one parking bay for every five seats in the mosque‚ which would result in 70 new parking bays being required for the 350-seat building.
Esso said that all issues regarding parking and traffic were addressed in their responding papers.
The matter continues.